Let’s take a look at some of these life obligations and what they mean for somebody who has a desire for high creative output.
Personal finances, for most people, are something that can only be ignored at perilous risk. We live in a world where we cannot provide for all of our needs, so we must earn money to pay for most of what we consume. Even a stay-at-home parent has to carefully manage a budget to ensure the needs of the family are met, even if the duty of earning the income is assigned to the other parent.
So, money is something you cannot ignore without severe consequences, but at the same time, it is not something that has to be the primary focus for all people. Those who really focus on making money, investing, or creating businesses can tell you just how much hard work goes into getting rich. A lot has to be sidelined if you are going to be spending 12 hours per day building up your business for a secure tomorrow.
It’s not just the time spent at the job, but also the mental focus. Make no mistake, business is its own creative endeavor and will occupy “headspace,” for lack of a better term.
My wife often remarks how she knows I’m disconnected from the moment, thinking of something related to my businesses – new book ideas, new video ideas, something with marketing, etc. My biggest periods of dissonance actually came not from being out of the moment, but from having these moments be occupied by work thoughts that that I didn’t actually care about, like when my day job was as a public school teacher and I had a million problems to solve every week.
If working 60 hours a week at a job or business isn’t for you, you aren’t alone, which is why most people pick a job that gives maximum payout for minimum work, rather than pursuing the bottom line with relentless fervor. There’s nothing wrong with going to work for eight hours (or less), clocking out, and then going home. There’s nothing wrong with having a roomy budget that doesn’t put that maximum amount into savings every month.
All this just means that finances aren’t your area of personal excellence and aren’t a huge priority. That also means your time and, more importantly, your mental energy, is freed up for other pursuits. It can’t be ignored, though. If you are out of money you have nowhere to live and no way to enjoy any of the other things in life. You also certainly will have no capacity to engage in creative endeavors.
Let me also say that many, many people in the creative fields I interact with (primarily writing, music, and visual arts) have early illusions that they can combine the obligation of money with their creative output – in effect, they can make a great living while doing what they love.
This is a myth, unfortunately, but not because it isn’t possible to make money as a creative professional, but rather because any business venture will ask of you things that you don’t readily enjoy. Authors must also be marketers. Musicians must also be booking agents and producers.
In addition, most people new to their field believe they will be immediately successful and be able to quit their job. The truth is that most immediate success is a fluke. If you actually want to find success it will take a lot of investment of time, if not money, before you start to see returns. Most businesses lose money early on, and your creative business will probably not be an exception.
This brings me back to money – having enough is important, but you need to leave room in your schedule and your head if you want to make creative gains as well.
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